Chicago Contemporary Circus Review – Creativity on Steroids

Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Steve Sarafian


Let’s all run away from home and join the circus! 


Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Steve Sarafian


If you spent even one hour with one of the ten acts in the second Chicago Contemporary Circus you too will likely share that impulse. 


Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Steve Sarafian


If the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival gets its way we won’t have to travel far. 


Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Steve Sarafian


The multi-talented bike mechanic juggled and more, with miming that was very reminiscent of an updated Stan Laurel. Photo by Steve Sarafian



Their goal is to make Chicago the center of American circus. 


Is quinta-jointed a word? Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Steve Sarafian


If the passport to that status is fun, creativity, imagination or awe-inspiring physical prowess the Chicago Contemporary Circus has already gone far towards its goal.


From Sweden, Kate & Pasi in "Sudhe" explore that eternal topic of relationships between men and women. Photo courtesy of Chicago Contemporary Circus


Wow! What fun!



Yes, there are gymnastics, juggling, trapeze, and more physical stunts that will leave you, the spectator, exhausted just from watching.  How many hours go into making this dazzling son-of-the-greatest-show-on-earth so seamless?


Peter Davison has trained extensively in ballet/dance, juggling and theater. You can tell! Photo by Peter Kachergis


More than the athleticism, it is the showcase of creativity that simply bowls you over. 


In the Submarine Show we see two men who have been friends since adolescence—Emmy Award winning Slater Penney and former Cirque du Soleil performer Jaron Hollander—take us on a fun-filled journey under the sea, onto the shore and into the skies with ZERO set.  Their vehicle is imagination and sound effects they can create on their own. 



Storytelling has never been so fun!


The last time we had seen movements like these they were made by gibbons in a forest. Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Steve Sarafian


With mimed story vignettes that sometimes feel like silent film shorts, Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics explores a landscape of super-athletes interacting with bicycle parts and other mechanics.


The set alone was dazzling. Pedal Punk by Cirque Mechanics. Photo by Peter Kachergis


Attention physics teachers!—Get a film of Pedal Punk and break down the laws of motion, gravity that Cirque Mechanics has tamed if not defied!  You couldn’t ask for a more fun demonstration to grab your students’ minds.


He is the waiter and the guest in a short tale done in mime. Photo by Peter Kachergis


Twirling from hat to hat and changing his persona each time. You'll especially love the Texan! Photo by Peter Kachergis


With no words we watch a love story of a World War I soldier unfold. Photo by Peter Kachergis


And prepare to be excited by the possibilities of play with ordinary objects in Peter Davison’s “Tossed & Found”.   You’ll never look at a street juggler, which Davison was at the age of 16, the same way.



What a gift to Chicago this circus event is! 


When Davison goes into the trunk at the show's close you feel as if a close friend has moved away. lPhoto by Peter Kachergis


While the venues where it was held were quite adequate, and the free popcorn from Garrett quite tasty, one can only hope that other big name Chicago venues like the MCA, Harris Theater or Auditorium Theatre will also join in on this circus so that more Chicagoans can get a taste of imagination on steroids. 


Peter Gilbert, a volunteer at the circus who calls himself an aspirational circus performer, has been perfecting his trapeze act with his girlfriend. He said the international acts and chance to network were really important to circus wannabees like him. Photo by Peter Kachergis


Don’t miss the next one.  Bookmark the Chicago Contemporary Circus website and check for future events.   

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